Quick & Reilly Inc. will expand its no-load fund supermarket by yearend, adding "hundreds" of additional funds, confirmed Thomas C. Quick, president and chief operating officer of the discount brokerage's parent, Quick & Reilly Group.

Palm Beach, Fla.-based Quick & Reilly offers 295 funds from 17 fund families in its no-transaction-fee mutual fund mart. But it plans to increase the number of no-load funds to 500 or 600 by streamlining the technology used to process transactions. The mart was launched six months ago.

The move should make the supermarket a stronger competitor to the popular OneSource no-load program from San Francisco-based Charles Schwab & Co.. But OneSource, established in 1992, would still be way ahead; it offers nearly 1,100 funds from 140 families.

Quick & Reilly also plans to build an automatic clearing house, or ACH, interface for its no-transaction-fee mart, which would let it put more funds in the program. The link would also let customers arrange automatic investments and withdrawals, said a company spokesman.

The new system would also move from processing transactions manually- with brokers keystroking in all the information and then subtracting the fees-to automatically, said the spokesman. He declined to name the consulting firm working with Quick & Reilly on that project.

The preparations for the extension of Quick & Reilly's program are being made even as rumors flood Wall Street that the shop is on the auction block.

Several banks are reportedly eyeing Quick & Reilly's business, among them Fleet Financial Group and Banc One Corp.

Quick & Reilly is reportedly looking for $40 a share, or about $1.5 billion.

Mr. Quick declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Quick & Reilly has filed a proposal with the National Association of Securities Dealers to offer investment software from Standard & Poor's and Morningstar through its 116 branch offices as a tool for customers .

The product would be aimed at baby boomers, said Mr. Quick said. "This would give them a suggested allocation between fixed (income) and equity."

Apart from the discount brokerage operation, Quick & Reilly Group operates U.S. Clearing Corp., which provides clearing and execution for brokerages and banks; JJC Specialist Corp., a New York Stock Exchange floor specialist group; and Nash, Weiss & Co., a Nasdaq over-the-counter market maker.

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